Friday, July 17, 2009

Quaker Hills Quarry (36La1100)

After six field seasons the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s (PHMC) Section of Archaeology ended excavations at the Quaker Hills Quarry (36LA1100) Site, a four acre size Shenks Ferry village located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The property is transitioning from a corn and bean field to a high density residential development replete with efficient condominium size homes, lawns and paved drives. In compliance with the Pennsylvania State History Code the PHMC undertook a multi-season archaeological study at 36LA1100. The work involved a detailed surface evaluation of prehistoric resources and a broad scale data recovery within the proposed development. The endeavor provided us with a glimpse of prehistoric Indian life at the dawn of history.

With the assistance of Temple University staff and students, PHMC exposed, mapped and selectively excavated more than 50% of the village site. The results provided sufficient information to determine site size, arrangement of living structures and related pit features, and other salient information about terminal Funk Phase Period subsistence and mortuary practices.

How Old is the Village?
Archaeologists place the Shenks Ferry Culture (circa 1250-1550 A.D.) into the Late Woodland Period. This three hundred year range of time was principally determined by radiocarbon dating charcoal and organic residues found in association with certain artifact types at Shenks Ferry sites in the Susquehanna Valley. The age of Funk Phase sites (the latest phase of Shenks Ferry) tend to cluster around the mid to late 15th century with a few sites surviving well into the beginning of the 16th century.

The majority of radiocarbon dates for the Quaker Hills Quarry Site indicate an occupation period closer to the first quarter of the 16th century during a time when the New World was undergoing many changes. Archaeologists have stated that the conspicuous correlation between the disappearance of Shenks Ferry and the arrival of the Susquehannocks may indicate inter-tribal warfare and that some Shenks Ferry settlements may have actually been overrun with invading Susquehannocks. This conquest theory has met with some challenge, however, and other reasons may have, in fact, precipitated their demise.

The following images depict typical artifacts and exceptional finds recovered from 36La1100, quartz projectile points and Funk phase pottery.

For more about the Shenks Ferry Culture and the results of PHMC excavations at the Quaker Hills Quarry Site please visit the research section of the PHMC's archaeology Web site.

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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